As a project manager do you have to look like a leader?
A project manager is a leader by default and you are more effective if you look like a leader. Looking like a leader may seem a bit abstract because it is more than dressing a certain way. It is having the presence of a leader. Presence is usually not a criteria to become a project manager, but it is often a requirement and a sought after trait for executives.
You will be a better project manager if you have presence.
Some executive coaches teach presence, as it is usually a factor organizations consider when selecting future leaders. Unfortunately, many people mistakenly undervalue the importance of presence or they are unaware of it as a factor.
The importance of presence became clear to me when I was conducting a project management training class for “high achievers” at a Fortune 100 company over 10 years ago. There was a human resources person in the class and I thought she was there to learn about project management. On a break she told me even though she was a class participant, she was in the class with an organizational executive to observe the participants to see which of the “high achievers” had presence. Those with presence would be put on the fast track.
For our purposes, we will define presence as the ability to appear or outwardly demonstrate the characteristics of a leader. You must create and manage your perception as a leader and not leave it to chance. Stakeholders, such as customers, other business units, team members and organizational leadership often judge your behaviors before they pay attention to content. Others must perceive you as a leader and as someone who is in control and receptive to the needs of stakeholders. If this perception is lacking, stakeholders may discount what you say or attempt to work around you and undermine your authority, limiting your effectiveness.
If you are interested in how to develop executive presence please read this short article http://www.executivepresence.com/pressreleases/What%20is%20Executive%20Presence%20Again.pdf
by Dr. Paul Aldo, the Founder and President of Executive Presence Inc. Dr. Aldo identifies a list of nine expressive qualities that consistently characterize executive presence. The qualities are Candor, Clarity, Openness, Passion, Poise, Self Confidence, Sincerity, Thoughtfulness, and Warmth. In addition to describing the characteristics in the article he states “notice that these qualities have nothing to do with the content of the message. Instead, they're about how you package the content and tell your story.”
Yes, you have to look like a leader.
Dr. James T. Brown, author, The Handbook of Program Management
Copyright 2011 SEBA Solutions Inc.